New Delhi: The much-awaited Kartarpur Sahib Corridor, a 4.7-kilometre-long passage that connects Dera Baba Nanak Sahib in India's Gurdaspur and Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan's Kartarpur will be formally thrown open for pilgrims on Saturday three days ahead of 550th anniversary of the founder of Sikhism Guru Nanak Dev on 12 November.
India and Pakistan will hold separate ceremonies on either side of the border to inaugurate the corridor which will grant Indian pilgrims access to the final resting place of Guru Nanak Dev who died at the start of the 16th century.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will today flag off the first batch of 500 Indian pilgrims, which includes former prime minister Manmohan Singh, Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh, Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal and her husband former Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal and several ministers, MPs and MLAs from Punjab who travel to Gurudwara Darbar Sahib through the Kartarpur Corridor.
Giani Harpreet Singh, the Jathedar of Akal Takht, will lead the Indian delegation as the religious leader.
Modi will also inaugurate passenger terminal building, also known as Integrated Check Post, where pilgrims will get clearance to travel through the corridor.
A 300 feet National Flag has been hoisted at the International Border.
The state-of-the-art Passenger Terminal Building is on 15 acres land. The fully airconditioned building akin to an airport has over 50 immigration counters for facilitating about 5000 pilgrims a day. It has all the necessary public amenities like kiosks, washrooms, childcare, first aid medical facilities, prayer room and snacks counters inside the main building.
Robust security infrastructure is put in place with CCTV surveillance and public address systems.
Meanwhile, Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan will also inaugurate the other side of the Kartarpur Corridor on the same day, apart from other events that will be hosted to mark Guru Nanak Dev's birth anniversary. He has invited former cricket star and Indian Sikh leader Navjot Singh Sidhu to attend the ceremony.
Sidhu, who has expressed his willingness to attend the inaugural ceremony, has been granted "political" clearance by the government to visit Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib.
India and Pakistan had on 24 October signed an agreement on the modalities for operationalising the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor, paving way for its inauguration ahead of the 550th birth anniversary of the Sikh Guru.
The corridor will facilitate visa-free movement but Indian pilgrims are required to carry their passports and will have to just obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara, which was established by Guru Nanak Dev in 1522.
The foundation stone for the Kartarpur Corridor was laid down on the Indian side on 26 November, 2018. Two days later, the foundation stone was laid on the Pakistani side.
According to the Home Ministry, the agreement, which lays a formal framework for operationalising the corridor, stated that Indian pilgrims of all faiths and persons of Indian origin can use the corridor. The travel will be visa-free and pilgrims need to carry only a valid passport. Persons of Indian-Origin need to carry OCI (Overseas Citizenship of India) card along with the passport of their country.
Pakistan on Friday said the country will not collect any charges from would not collect any service charge from Indian pilgrims visiting Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib through Kartarpur corridor on 9 and 12 November.
This came after Pakistan had announced that it will charge Indian pilgrims $20 service fee.
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Updated Date: Nov 09, 2019 09:16:31 IST